Two starting pitchers, one a very highly regarded an ace if you will, the other often called things like “reliable, decent but not dominating, not an ace” The last phrase used by fans of the team he is on. They were both picked in the 1998 draft, the ace in the first round and the not-ace in the 38th. Here are the numbers for both:
Ace: 118 wins/ 74 L/ ERA 3.66/ IP 1671.1/ HR 150/ BB 528/ SO 1399/ ERA+ 121/ WHIP 1.24
Not-Ace: 123 W/ L 87/ ERA 3.79/ IP 1859/ HR 211/ BB 428/ SO 1091/ ERA+ 122/ WHIP 1.26
The Ace does have a slight advantage I think overall, but that isn’t the point. The point is that Not-Ace compares pretty favorably with the Ace and in some cases out does the Ace. Yes Ace has the higher amount of strikeouts but along with that comes the higher amount of walks. The home runs allowed is a little misleading in that Not-Ace plays in the most homer friendly ball park in the majors. Shifting focus from the regular season to the post season, which I know is a bit dubious because of the small sample size, but I do think the numbers give us an interesting insight:
Ace: 2 W/ 3 L/ 7.91 ERA/ 25 IP/ 24 SO/ 22 BB/ 2.2 WHIP (5 games total)
Not-Ace: 2 W/ 1 L/ 4.11 ERA/ 30.2 IP/ 16 SO/ 1 BB/ 1.07 WHIP (6 games total)
If they both make the post season these numbers will more than likely radically change, especially if either one were to throw a nine inning shutout or get blasted for 10 runs in 3.3 innings. What is interesting is that Ace seems to lose control during the post season (22 walks!) where as Not-Ace seems to really hunker down and take his control to another level. Neither ERA is very good, but 7.91 is approaching a level that makes even the most battle tested of fans a little anxious about his starts come October. Who are these two pitchers? Ace is CC Sabathia and Not-Ace is Mark Buehrle. Sabathia is the better pitcher, but Buehrle is no slouch and is in the same league as Sabathia, yet doesn’t seem to garner the same attention and praise that Sabathia gets. The other argument that I often hear is that Buehrle isn’t a true #1, a true ace of a pitching staff. Really? Let me ask my NY friends this: When its October and Sabathia is scheduled to start, how comfortable are you going to be knowing that CC has a 7.91 ERA and 2.2 WHIP coming in? And aren’t you just a little happier now that the trade to send Buehrle to the Red Sox never went through? Go White Sox.